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Enchantment of Nusantara: Jatiluhur Dam, Enchantment in the ‘Heart’ of Citarum

Mukhamad Kurniawan

Ir H Djuanda Reservoir, commonly referred to as Jatiluhur Dam, is in the heart of Citarum River's flow. Damming the river in the region of ​​Purwakarta Regency, West Java, the 8300hs reservoir is pumping “life”. Its various potentials are worthy of being enjoyed as a natural attraction for tourists.

Started to be built in 1957, Jatiluhur was projected to be a versatile dam. Aside from preventing floods in the downstream area of Citarum, Jatiluhur also irrigates 240,000ha of rice fields in the northern part of West Java, generating electricity by as much as 700-800 gigawatt hours per year, as well as supplying raw water to meet the demand of industries and clean water for Special Capital Territory of Jakarta (DKI Jakarta), Bekasi, and Karawang. Jatiluhur Dam has also developed into a fish farm through floating net cages (KJA). The cage culture technology was first tested in the reservoir in 1974, and it was further developed in 1988. In the past ten years, the business has been growing rapidly. Now the number has reached 17,000 units with a production volume of about tens of thousands of tons per year. Subsequently Jatiluhur has also been developed as a tourist destination location. Centred on the east coast - the nickname for the east bank of the dam - the Jatiluhur tourism object occupies an area of ​​53ha of land in the Village of Jatimekar, Sub-District of Jatiluhur. 

From Bandung, we are targeting this location through Purbaleunyi Toll Road. Exiting through the Jatiluhur gate in the area of Ciganea, Purwakarta, the location of this tourist attraction can be reached by only a dozen minutes or so. Visitors from Jakarta also better come through this toll road gate, because it is only seven kilometres away from the tourist attraction. After passing an ascending road with several bends, the main gate to the tourism area directly greets. Here, visitors must pay an entrance fee of Rp 5000 per person. Special on weekends or national holidays, the charge is increased to Rp 7500 per person. Only one kilometre from the entrance gate, visitors are immediately treated to a very broad expanse of water. It is so vast, we refer to the reservoir as an ocean. Rows of mountains and thousands of cage filled plots decorate the western horizon across (the body of water). Punctuated by the sound of passing boats as they take visitors, the wind sweeps the land and flies the leaves on the trees that line the east coast. Under these trees, the natural panorama of Jatiluhur can be enjoyed in full from the north side, west, then south, or vice versa.

In Jatiluhur tourism area, there is the “headquarters” of the sport of rowing. If lucky, you can watch the national rowing athletes practicing canoeing, kayaking, or paddling a dragon boat across the waters of Jatiluhur. However, fishing is no less exciting than watching the rowing athletes competing for speed. Visitors can bring their own fishing rod and bait. But you also can buy them in the stalls on either side of the road a few kilometres ahead of the tourist attraction, with just a few thousands to tens of thousands of rupiah. The presence of tens of thousands of floating net cages is really giving advantage to the anglers. Zaenal (32), an angler from Plered, Purwakarta, is convinced that most of his catch are fish that escape from the cultivation ponds. Indeed, those fish that are commonly hooked are of the types of tilapia, carp, or catfish, which are cultivated in large quantities in the region. 

For just fishing, you can try another location outside the tourism area. Jatiluhur Dam covers six sub-districts in Purwakarta Regency, namely Jatiluhur, Sukatani, Plered, Tegalwaru, Maniis, and Sukasari. Almost all have banks that can be used as the location of fishing. In Cibinong Area, Sub-District of Jatiluhur; in Kutamanah, Sub-District of Sukasari; or in Galumpit, Sub-District of Tegalwaru, you can easily find the fishing shanties, a sort of hut made of bamboo, which is leased for Rp 5000 per day. In these stalls, anglers usually stick their baits, waiting for fish to strike for hours, and take shelter from the hot sunlight and the rain. In some locations there are also motorcycle deposit centres. It is natural, because most anglers also spend the night on the banks of the reservoir. They bring their own supplies of food or drink, but quite a few merchants on boat approach the fishing shanties in Jatiluhur, offering fried foods, rice plus side dishes, or just cigarettes and coffee.

Grilled Fish
The Jatiluhur tourist area, which is managed by Tourism Unit of Perum Jasa Tirta (PJT) II, also offers educational tours that take the form of a visit and explanation about the dam and its power plant technologies. However, due to security reasons, this package is not open to the public in recent years. Jatiluhur tourism object offer a camping ground and a conference hall, hotel and bungalow accommodation, cruises in the waters of the reservoir, children playground and swimming pool. The cruise ship facility can be enjoyed with a tariff of Rp 10,000 - Rp 12,500 per person for one-way trip. Meanwhile, the monorail play train facility costs Rp 10,000, the mini motorcycle Rp 10,000, and the water world Rp 27,500 a person. One factor that makes this area different from other tourist attractions is its menu of grilled fish. The east coast of Jatiluhur is filled with eateries offering a mainstay menu of grilled fish. The types of fish that are offered include carp, tilapia, catfish, jambal, and goby, which are either grilled or fried with rates between Rp 25,000 - Rp 300,000 per kilogram. Some restaurant owners also offer companion menu like sour vegetable, chili paste, fresh vegetables, karedok, and young coconut iced drink. 

Head of Tourism Unit of PJT II, ​​Heri Hermawan, added that his office has developed cooperation with third parties who offer services of outdoor activities within the Jatiluhur Dam area. The cooperation is held among others with Pelopor Adventure Camp and Outbound Indonesia, which offers natural adventure tourism services and team building. The east coast of Jatiluhur also is often used as a point of departure towards the highest andesite cliff in Indonesia, i.e. the Mount Parang cliff in Sukamulya Village, Sub-District of Sukatani, one of the areas on the eastern side of the reservoir. The structure of hard rock and “minimal grips” attracts the interest of and challenges professional rock climbers to come and conquer it. The location of Sukamulya can be reached by motor boat for about 1.5 hours drive across the dam and following a foot path. Mount Parang has three peaks (towers), the highest is Tower I, which is as high as 963m above sea level. This tower has a climbing field that is approximately 600m high and has become a favourite location of the rock climbers. Interested to enjoy one or all of them? Please come to Jatiluhur Dam. Good luck.